Running a summer art program for kids can be a challenging balance game. Keeping campers entertained and interested while keeping DIY projects simple and relatively mess free is the ultimate goal, and I always try to mix things up so our returning campers aren’t doing the same projects year after year! I’ve done tie-dye and bleach out shirts, tiles, clay, watercolor, shrinky-dinks, silk painting and more, but I’ve always wanted to do a batik project.
Batik is the process of dying intricate designs on fabric using hot wax to block out shapes while dying the fabric with various colors. Hot wax is a tricky thing to use and keep track of when working with kids, and the materials can be expensive though, so I have strayed away from it in the past. This year however I have tried a different version of batik that is simple and kid friendly! We made a batik design on bandanas and they turned out great!
- plain white bandana
- bottle of washable Elmer’s Glue
- Acrylic paint, paint brushes, and water
Step One: On scratch paper, lay out a design for your batik. It could be words, images, or just a cool line design. Sky’s the limit! Just think about how you want to add color and what your design will look like in the end. Once you’ve perfected your design on paper, you’re ready for the real thing!
Step Two: Using the bottle of Elmer’s glue, draw out your design on your bandana. Be careful not to make thick lines of glue or heavy dots. You want your lines to be thin and steady across the surface of the fabric.
Step Three: Let the glue dry in the sun and work on something else!
Backup projects are a huge part of the Art Shack at camp. Things like jewelry or friendship bracelets, lanyards, coloring book pages, etc. are important to have ready while projects dry or if a camper isn’t particularly involved in the project you are doing. Check out this video of another simple project that we do at camp.
Step Four: Now that the glue is dry (about 30 minutes or so of drying time), it’s time to paint! Using acrylic paint, add water to the palette to really water the paint down a bit. This makes it much easier to spread across the fabric and gives the finished project a cool, lighter effect. Cover the entire face of the fabric in paint putting colors wherever you’d like, and there’s no need to avoid the glue lines- you can paint right over the top of them! Again, reminder that you do not need heavy paint on the bandana- the lighter the layer, the better it will look and the easier it will dry.
You may want to cover your surface with paper for the paint portion, since the fabric is thin and tends to soak through onto your working surface. (You don’t want to put paper underneath for the wet glue portion however, as the glue will soak through and dry to the paper, eventually taking the paper with it when you pick up the bandana. It is easier to pull the fabric off of the table surface and wipe it down after you are finished to get rid of any glue that may have stuck to the table.)
Step Five: Let the paint dry (acrylic dries rather quickly). Once it is completely dry, throw your bandana in a wash cycle with cold water and tumble dry on low. This sets the paint in, washes the glue off of the bandana and leaves thin white lines wherever your glue was, exposing the original design you made! It also softens the fabric so now you are ready to use your bandana or display it somewhere for it to be admired! Voila!